Injury forces Mitchell's hand
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Blue Bulls coach John Mitchell has delayed a decision on injured lock Aston Fortuin, ahead of the trip to Durban.
Aston Fortuin sprained his ankle against the Pumas last week and although he returned to training this week, a decision will only be made on Fortuin's availability closer to the Currie Cup semifinal showdown with the Sharks on Saturday.
Fortuin has been bracketed with Jannes Kirsten in the second row and will face a late fitness test.
If he is not fit, Kirsten, who recently returned to full match fitness, will start at lock.
If Fortuin is passed fit, Kirsten will be amongst the replacements.
Mitchell kept the same starting team that played against the Pumas (pending Fortuin's fitness), but added a fit-again Lizo
Gqoboka to the bench.
Duncan Matthews is also back and will start off the bench.
Mitchell was relaxed about the trip to Durban, despite the stakes.
"We are the clear underdogs for this and in a way, it does relieve some of the pressure," the New Zealander said.
We know we are facing the team that dominated the tournament this season, on their home turf, so it will be a huge challenge and occasion. "
Having said that, one of our main objectives this year was to look inwards, to our own objectives and processes and make sure we
execute on those. "
So the real challenge will not be coming from the opponents, but from within."
Mitchell feels his team was in a win-win situation.
"We started this journey with the end objective being that of a winning team. "
"Nothing has changed and we are definitely not going down to Durban to concede.
We were in a deep hole at the start of the competition and a couple of weeks later it is now in our hands to win the Currie Cup.
"That is massive progress. Whether we have progressed enough in our belief and execution will be proved on Saturday."
Bulls captain Burger Odendaal described the week as the calm before the storm.
"We trained well, with a clear and precise plan of what we want to achieve this weekend," Odendaal said.
Our last match against them was played in horrible conditions, but we did some good things back then. "
"You cannot really take anything out of that day, due to the conditions, but we are certainly starting to hit the straps in our way forward.
"I think we are far enough down the road to offer a very, very competitive match."
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Burger Odendaal (captain), 12 John Jackson, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Aston Fortuin/Jannes Kirsten, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacement: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Jannes Kirsten/Eli Snyman, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Duncan Matthews, 23 John-Roy Jenkinson.
Date: Saturday, October 21
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 14.30 (12.30 GMT)
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Christie du Preez